Arlington Slows Down Neighborhood Street

Traffic circle, bump-outs and bike lanes added to reduce traffic speed


Arlington is trying to put the brakes on traffic along a residential street that sees some drivers topping 70 mph.

Drivers on Norwood Lane go an average of 50 mph -- despite a speed limit of 35 mph.

"People tend to drive the conditions of the roadway," said Keith Melton, director of Public Works and Transportation. "[Norwood Lane] was a very wide, flat, straight roadway, and it's a natural tendency to drive faster than what the posted speed limits are."

With the cooperation of Norwood Lane residents, Arlington built a traffic circle and bump-outs up and down the street -- both the first of their kind in the city.

Bump-outs essentially extend portions of the curb. They jet out into the road, creating a windy lane. Drivers don't have a straightaway and instead must slow down to negotiate the bump-outs.

Arlington also reduced the four-lane road to just two lanes and added bike lanes on each side of the road.

"We don't mind traffic, we just minded traffic at race-car speed," said Ruby Woolridge, president of the Norwood Lane Homeowners Association.

She said she is very pleased with the $75,000 city project.

"It has made a world of difference," she said. "It's made everyone calm down."

Melton said the most ideal option -- digging up the roadway and rebuilding it as a two-lane road -- was not the most cost-effective option. Rebuilding the road would have cost the city about $2 million.

"The main objective here is to slow down the excessive speeds and turn this residential street back to the citizens where they feel safe to be in their front yards or going to their mailboxes," he said.

Many questioned why the city didn't add speed bumps, but city officials said they were not a safe option.

"The speeds people were driving were too fast, and it would be a safety hazard for cars to hit [speed bumps] at 50, 60 mph," Melton said.

While people who live along Norwood Lane are happy with the "traffic-calming" project, not everyone is pleased, Melton said.

"People who live adjacent and use this as a street getting to and from their neighborhoods probably aren't the happiest," he said.

Wanita Gladner, who lives near Norwood Lane but not on it, said she doesn't like the changes.

"It's just a horrible mess is what it is," she said.

Jan Dye agreed.

"I couldn't figure out what -- that's very confusing in the center there," she said of the traffic circle.

But Melton said that while it may take some getting used to, the project is still achieving its goal.

"If you ask, 'Are the vehicles slowing down?,' I think the bottom line answer is, 'You have to,' so, from that standpoint, the project was effective."

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